It is our job to make it as easy as possible for our children to come to us when they have something difficult to say. The last thing they want or need is judgement or questions that make them feel guilty for waiting to tell or allowing it to happen in the first place.
Since only a small percentage of children will tell about their abuse within the first year, it’s necessary that we instill a sense that “it’s never too late” – that no matter how serious or scary, we will support and help them – that’s our job as adults.
Sexual abuse is often confusing for a child. Abusers often manipulate children by making them feel that this is a loving interaction, that it is normal. They often seek to pleasure the child so that the child feel good about what is happening. The older the child – the more likely they are to understand that this is not normal, and become confused by feelings of wanting it not to occur yet physically feeling pleasure. This can lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, and guilt for being “complicit” in their own abuse. Some children would rather deal with the stress and burden of carrying these emotions than have to face their parents and expose their “dirtiness” and/or failure to say no to their abuser.
We must remind our children:
If you were are too afraid to say no – it’s not your fault.
If the person tricked or scared you into letting them touch you, or you touch them – it’s not your fault.
If you feel like you love this person – it’s not your fault.
If it felt good to your body – it’s not your fault.
If it happened over and over again – it’s still not your fault.
This happens to children all over the world.
You have nothing to be ashamed about.
I would always be happy and proud of you for telling me.
I love you no matter what.